Tag Archives: self esteem

13 Reasons Why…

I didn’t kill myself.

By now many of you have probably watched or at least heard of the hit Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why. It’s main focus is to demonstrate how what you say and do, no matter how small, matters. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life, so be kind, because you don’t know what impact you could have.

Obviously a huge focal point of the series is the inevitable suicide of the female lead. As the focus is more anti-bullying than anti-suicide, I’ve heard some opinions that the show glorified suicide. But as someone who’s been there, I disagree.

More people are prone to accidentally or intently being hurtful than being suicidal, that focus is warrented. That doesn’t mean the show is pro-suicide. In fact I saw many measures taken to show that Hannah Baker made the wrong choice. She died not realizing the happiness she could have had, mistaking that everyone hated her. She left behind a wake of hurt for her loved ones. It was not an easy or painless death. I’ve heard complaints the the suicide scene was shown in such graphic detail, but I’m glad it was. It destroyed the illusion that suicide is an easy out.

To people who might think it was “triggering”, it was. As someone who relates to Hannah Baker in many ways, the show brought back emotions I thought I had suppressed. It was painful to watch. But even though in the short term it hurt, in the long run it pushed the option of suicide farther away. It helped.

Most importantly it opened the discussion, a much needed discussion often hidden by stigma. It may not have been perfect, but it was needed. It missed opportunities to discuss mental health, could’ve provided more warnings, among other things. However, movements don’t go from barely discussing the topic to getting everything right. It’s a process, and 13 Reasons Why encourages that process even if it’s in the beginning side.

In my life, due to a combination of tough times, mental health issues, and life circumstances. I have been on that edge more than once, and nearly crossed it. I’m so glad I never did. I do, however, know what it’s like to be in that irrational place where you feel you aren’t wanted, needed, and just a burden. In the spirit of the show and a trend I’ve seen started, I’m going to list 13 reasons. Except these are the opposite of Hannah’s reasons, these are reasons why I chose to stay alive at various points.

1. I hadn’t made all the differences I could

I always knew I wanted to leave the world better off than I found it, or at least give the effort to do so my all, as cliche as that sounds. If I opted out of life early I wasn’t giving that effort my all, I wasn’t fulfilling what I saw as my purpose, I was leaving future people I could help out.

2. I always had someone

My grandma always said all it takes is one person to change the course of someone else’s life. I can speak to the truth of this. I always had someone in my life who was there to listien, there to care, and that made all the difference. It wasn’t always the same person, but that’s ok.

3. I had to get back to Ireland

I know my friends tease me for talking non-stop about my adopted home, but there’s a reason. When I was 7 I apparently asked all my cousins to adopt me so I didn’t have to go back to America. Ireland was one of the only places in my life where I felt like I fit in. Sure it’s good to be unique, (something my preschool teacher often called me but not convincingly in a complimentary way), but sometimes it’s nice to just feel at home. I hold on to this goal so tightly because it gives me hope. It’s a light even in my darkest times that I have something to look forward to.

4. My family

We’ve been through so much as a unit that I wouldn’t want to inflict any more pain. They don’t deserve that.

4. I had to prove the naysayers wrong

I am very fortunate to have had people in my corner throughout my life, but as everyone does I also had the opposite. In the form sometimes of teachers or administrators even. Or people I loved. To some, expectations were low of me. I wouldn’t go to college. I would get addicted to drugs. I would end up permanently hospitalized, or never leaving home. I had to show them they were wrong. That I was resilient. That I was more than what happened to me or what I was diagnosed as. I had to show them I could achieve not only a normal life, but a great one.

5. Laughter

I love laughing. I love corny jokes, memes, puns, and all the likes. I love that euphoric feeling of joy that comes with it. Most of all I love sharing that with people. I didn’t want to miss out on any more laughs.

6. Whatever the hit show was at the time

Yes, I’m aware I watch a lot of TV and movies. Not only is it a great distraction but if it’s good it keeps me on my toes. I need to know what happens next. Which helps keep me thinking of the future.

7. So much of the world I haven’t seen

I love travel. I love experiencing new things and cultures and atmospheres. Each time you come away enlightened. I wanted to give myself a shot those experiences. Whether it be a new nature spot or a trip to Wellington, I didn’t want to end my chances of reaching it.

8. All the fluffy things

As much as I deny being a girly girl, I will squeal at the sight of 99.9% of animals. Highly ironic since I’m allergic to most, but all the same I can’t miss out on the joy of affection from these sweet creatures. Even just looking at them is a goodness I want to keep available.

9. I don’t know what happens after death

It’s natural to fear the unknown. The afterlife is a highly debated unknown. There are theories, but no one knows for sure. I like to think the afterlife is something like the one in What Dreams May Come, but I don’t know. And in that depiction people who commit suicide continue in the depths of despair. I’d like to pick that part of the depiction and change it, but I don’t have that kind of power, and I have no way of knowing what waits for me. Sometimes it’s easier choosing the harder now than the frightening unknown.

10. I want to live to be 105

I know this is a strange one. But basically, if I live to be 105 I will have lived in 3 centuries and have memories in each. I’m aware this is unlikely, but why ruin my shot?

11. I want to see where the world goes

My grandpa is 94 and my grandma is 90. They often talk about how much the world has changed in their lifetime and memories. I want that opportunity. I want to see what technology is developed, where medicine goes, what the country lines are. I’m curious. I know the world isn’t looking too great at the moment, but I have faith it can change. 

12. Discoveries

Look, I’m not saying we are gonna find Atlantis, I’m just saying a lot of the Ocean hasn’t been explored a bunch. And what about Space? What discoveries will I make about myself if I keep living? Maybe I’m secretly great at something I had no idea about. I wand to discover what it’s like to have a family. I want to see these discoveries to happen.

13. Memories

If I committed suicide there would be countless memories I’d miss out on. Birthdays, weddings, graduations, nights out, nights in, and even alone time. Some will be bad, and some will be good. But the good times are worth the bad.

Not the War

I can’t breath. 

I can’t breath. 

This space is so small. 

Make it stop. 

The world is crushing me.

Everything, all the Earth’s energy, is closing in.

I can’t get out. This space is too small.

I can’t breath.

Please.

Make it stop.

Panic attacks. They’re not fun. If you’ve never had one count yourself lucky.

Today I had one for the first time in a long time. Well, a few months. For me that’s a success. It wasn’t a bad one. Well, they’re always bad… but I’ve seen much worse. 

It was one of those days where my anxiety was like a dog yanking on the leash to run ahead of the owner. All day I felt the edge ever present. It was what I call a 10 second day- a day where I use a trick I learned from Kimmy Schmidt. You break life down into more manageable time chunks… 10 seconds.

My will could only hold the leash for so long, because the anxiety dog was inevitably let loose at approximately 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time as I was shampooing my hair. 

The long day of feeling like I was screwing everything up had caught up to me. The day where I feared parts of the future would be off alignment with what I had planned (something that seems so much worse than it actually is to an OCD riddled mind) had done its toll. The day of feeling overwhelmed had finally reached its peak, and due to some wonky brain chemistry that left me with an anxiety disorder- my body unnecessarily went into flight or fight mode. I had a panic attack.

Now, as I lay in bed trying to calm myself down as I write this, I feel disappointed in myself. I’m upset that I let my anxiety make my day worse than it needed to be, and made me act strange. I’m upset I had a panic attack today, when I’ve survived far more nerve-wracking situations unscathed. I’m upset that I’m not over it as I type this. 

It won. My anxiety won. And that, above all else, is what upsets me.

But, the more significance I give this loss, the more that anxiety’s victory is worth. I’m only human, I’m not going to win all the time. No matter how hard I try, there is only so much I can combat with medicine and coping mechanisms. I’m human, and therefore flawed and cracked. Through those cracks my anxiety might find an edge.

However, those cracks can be subsequently repaired, lessening in number over time. So long as I keep my healthy characteristics, and actively repair the cracks, I can’t crumble. If I don’t crumble- I’ve won the war. Who cares how many itty bitty cracks in strength my anxiety exploits to win a battle if I’m still standing and still fighting. 

So to my anxiety I say this: You won the battle today, but you haven’t won the war. I’ll see you tomorrow.

An Open Letter To Those Who Feel Things More Deeply

Don’t let people pigeon hole you. You are so much more than an over thinker. So much more than a sensitive soul. So much more than a dramatic. You can be hilarious, deep, light-hearted, serious, profound, lively, and anything else simultaneously. Just like any other human, you are complex and layered. Even Shrek had layers.

You are not weak. It takes a great deal of strength to repeatedly open yourself up to the world around you. To not harden and build walls. Allowing your emotions to be powerfully raw and continue on in spite of their impact takes courage. You’re letting life affect you while you live it.

Take care of yourself. You should be proud of who you are, deep feelings and all, but don’t be afraid to withdraw when needed. Your abilities allow for extraordinary euphoria all the way to depressing despair. You need the latter to appreciate the former. Experiencing the scale is experiencing life. However, just experiencing despair is not. Do not allow the negatives to become so consuming you miss out on the positives.

Take a breath. What you’re feeling, no matter how encompassing, will pass.

You are passionate. Feeling connected and affected doesn’t have to bring you down, it can motivate you. You care. Use that care and concern as a catalyst to change your surroundings for the better. Your qualities can make you, and your world, better.

You are compassionate. Having felt deeply and truly,  you have experience and therefore an understanding of more emotions than the average person. This lends you to be more empathetic to those around you, as you can relate. Maybe not exactly, but to an amount that allows for true connection.

You experience more of life. The depth of your sentiments allows for you to see a greater range of the human experience. This lends itself to great thought on the matter. You’re in line with the poets and saints.

“EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

Thornton Wilder, Our Town

You are you. Be proud.

 

Say What YOU Need To Say

Already back at it?! Saw whaaatttt?!?! Well I thought I’d give this short post a a little twist using song lyrics instead of book quotes.

There’s that study a while back about what people regret most. What most participants said is that they regret what they didn’t do, not what they did. Isn’t vocalization an action? Could this philosophy apply to what we say in our lives as well?

“And all those things I didn’t didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain “

~Fight Song, Rachel Platten

We’ve all been there. Left our words inside our head instead of saying them out loud or even typing them. Or perhaps we didn’t phrase our statement so that it reflected what we were trying to say. I consider myself a fairly unfiltered individual and even I can relate. Just because I usually say what I’m thinking doesn’t mean that what I’m thinking is organized in a manner efficiently reflective of what I’m feeling, or trying to prove. Additionally everyone, including myself, has topics that make the brain stutter.

So what does this all mean? We can’t go back and tell everyone that was ever in our lives what we meant. We can’t change our goodbyes. We can’t stand up to insults more poetically retroactively. However,we also can’t continue to lose a second of sleep over wondering. What helps me is remembering that no matter how eloquently you said what you meant, it doesn’t mean it would have been taken that way.

“These words are my diary screaming out loud, and I know that you’ll use them however you want to”

~Breathe (2 AM), Anna Nalick

Communication is a complicated process of encoding and decoding messages that takes at least two parties. How the message is received, though influenced by how you deliver it, is essentially on the other person. So you can’t wish you said something solely for a specific reaction out of someone, because that reaction is not in your control.

 You have to speak for you, when you need or want to get something off your mind, not because you want a response. You can’t change the past but you can learn for the future. So, by all means, this blog is making me more motivated to tell the people in my life that I love them, stand up for myself, and make more jokes even if they’re lame- but I realize I have to do it for me. I’m going to make that lame pun if it makes me happy, but I won’t be counting on laughs.

“Decide what to be, and go be it.”

~Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, The Avett Brothers

Everything Won’t Be Alright, And That’s OK

I won’t lie. I’ve always been a bad liar. Everything is not going to be alright. Everything will not get better.

But some things will.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Robert Frost

In the depths of despair it is hard to believe such reassurances as “it’ll all be ok”. Coming from someone who’s been there, an element of this doubt is the overwhelming and crushing negativity that makes climbing out of the hole you are in seem too great a feat. Another element, however, is the strong logic that  such a generalization can’t be true.

Many illnesses, including my own, can’t be cured. Loved ones won’t come back from the dead. Things won’t always go back to the way they were. There are some wounds that time can only scar over, but never truly heal.

By no means does this mean to lose hope. By no means does this mean to give up. By no means does this mean life isn’t a beautiful thing. It just means we need to stop expecting it to be perfect, flawless, and smooth. It will never be this, at any given point.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Life isn’t a paved road that has unmaintained and rocky sections. Life is field. A meadow where any square inch is full of good things and bad. For example, you just stepped somewhere that was cushioned by grass, but home to a fire ant  that is capable of biting you. Life is complex, oversimplifying it is just setting yourself up to be disappointed.

If you expect a time to be “the best years of your life”, if you expect every aspect of your life to be going smoothly, if you expect pain to be wiped from your slate completely- you will be disappointed. Not everyone or everything’s agenda is the same as yours. There are bound to be clashes. There bound to be sorrows. And if you aren’t expecting them, they hit that much harder.

That’s why it’s important to know that not everything will be alright, and know that’s ok. Because, these sorrows don’t have to negate the good. As was said in a movie I watched this summer, you have to be happy with being sad. And just as inevitably as bad is bound to happen, so is something that makes you smile. Those moments of happiness, those moments of euphoria, those moments of human connection; they make the bad times worth it.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

It won’t all be ok. Accept it. There might be many moments in the future where things are not ok. But inbetween, I promise you, something will be ok. Something will make you grateful. Something will make you happy to be alive. Cherish it, whether it’s big or small. It’s what makes everything worthwhile.

pic

The Past that Follows

How do I move on when the past is a part of me?

“Scars remind us that the past was real..”

– Shakespeare

I struggle with the present. I know it’s a “gift” and all but I’ve always dwelled on the past and worried about the future. I have moments of laughter with friends, contentment in my surroundings, or pride of my actions where I know I’m happy in the moment. True euphoria. I cherish and recognize these moments because of their rarity.

Everyone has had obstacles to overcome and in that we can all relate. Unfortunately I don’t often meet many with similar experiences to me, leaving me feeling isolated and without the understanding I for some reason so desperately crave. I’ve overcome my obstacles, but in a way I’ve been unable to move on. Traumatic in nature, some of my experiences have shaped me into who I am today. So I ask again-

How can I move on when the past is a part of me?

“My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.”

William Golding

The reason I try so hard to make others laugh is because I know what it’s like to be in pain. The reason I ask frequently for reassurance is because I’ve been told enough times I’m worthless. The reason I worry is because I struggle with mental health. The the reason I strive to be kind is because I don’t ever want to treat anyone in the undeserving manner I’ve been treated in. I don’t want to perpetuate the cycle of hurt and cynicism that I’ve witnessed.  I want to be a ray of sunshine that brightens people’s day. A reminder that, as cheesily as it sounds, that like Samwise Gamgee said in Lord of the Rings Two Towers, there’s some good in this world and its worth fighting for.

My past has shaped me. To move on from it is to move on from myself. To forget it is to fight the daily battle I fight to overcome the challenges that continue on from my past and the lasting effects of some experiences. To accept that in some cases I don’t get closure is to leave my world tangled.

At the same time I can’t continue to let the past distract from the present. Too often I spend too much time wrestling with thoughts of times gone by. What happened in primary school shouldn’t be effecting me now. But it does. Questions of what if shouldn’t keep me up at night. But they do. Those moments could be spent being present, being content, being appreciative of the amazing people and things in my life. There’s enough in the present to think about without the past clouding my judgement.

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

The past made me who I am, and I shouldn’t forget who I am. But I can’t let the past take over. It may have a place in my life but not at the expense of my happiness. I don’t know how to change the past’s power. I don’t know how to alter my ways, thoughts, or patterns. But I know I must try. The past might have led me to where I am but I can’t let it dictate my life. I can appreciate the good and bad that’s come before and it’s place in my journey without letting it define me.

Falling Short

You’re your own worst critic.

Stop being so hard on yourself.

You’re doing the best you can.

“Most important thing in life is learning how to fall.”

Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses

You can’t please everyone, that is a lesson of it’s own. But what about yourself? What happens when you can’t reach your own goals? Your own standards?

I’ve been there. I am there. In more ways than one.

One area is school. I’ve always identified as the smart kid, the nerd. School was the one area of life I could receive praise for a really long time. Regardless, I had to be good at school to afford college. Academics was an escape. I want to make a career out of it, I want to be a professor. At the moment, however, I’m falling short.I’m not failing. However, I’m not the star, straight A student I was. I’m burnt out and overwhelmed. This isn’t the first time, but this is the more noticeable time.

It’s as if all my energy is currently going to just existing. In terms of Spoon Theory- a person only has so many spoons, each symbolizing energy. Tasks require varying amounts of spoons, and once that spoon is used it doesn’t reappear until the person has recharged. It’s as if I used to start a day with dozens of spoons, and currently I’m trying to live off 5. There simply isn’t enough energy to thrive.

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”

Voltaire

I have trouble accepting that it’s okay. That everyone has periods of falling short and that I am in no way worth less or less capable in the future because of where I am now. I feel like I’m letting myself down. Like I’m not reaching my potential, despite having some hefty obstacles currently in the way. I start to fear I won’t reach my dream of a career in academics because I start to doubt my own intelligence and proficiency. And if this one area that I had consistently shined in is taken away- who am I?

If there’s one thing I learned this summer, it’s that I can’t let these thoughts get me down.

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

Tom Hiddleston

A high achieving colleague let me in on a secret one afternoon tea as I opened up about these worries. About how I wasn’t feeling good enough to succeed. He simply said: no one has it figured out. Everyone feels as uncertain as I do and everyone is faking it until they make it. It’s normal to experience doubt, and no one is perfect, so It’s normal to have off times. So long as I keep going, and keep projecting confidence, I can move onwards and upwards despite falling short occasionally.

As long as you have the will, you can succeed. You just need to keep going, keep trying, all the way through the periods of doubt, and you can learn along they way how to make it.

 

Thinking of Others

A personal and extremely sappy post.

I love interviews. I love talking. I’ve done so many at this stage that I have stock answers for generic questions. Whenever asked what my biggest weakness is I always tell the truth. My biggest weakness is also my biggest strength: that I care too much. It both fuels my efforts and fuels my emotional downfall. I take things far too personally.

Somewhere along the way caring about everything became too much- too much for my heart which has always felt things a little too deeply. I try now to care only about the things I can’t help caring about. I care about making a difference. I care about nature. I care about people. I care about performing. I care about film. I care about mental health. I care about injustice. I care about spreading love.

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”

Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

Unfortunately, I can’t shake that I care deeply what other people think of me. I’m certainly not too sensitive for banter and jokes, but  I can’t cope with bad blood. I can’t deal with someone not liking who I am as a person. For an unfiltered and brash individual, who is nowhere near perfect, winning over the universe is not easy. My preschool teacher told my mom that I was “unique in every sense of the word” and I’m not convinced it was a compliment. I try to win people over with my open-minded nature. I’d like to think I’m witty too, though my puns are often questionable at best. My memes are pretty dank though. I digress. I live my life under the principle that people should be able to do whatever they want so long as they are not hurting someone else. If they’re not hurting anyone it’s not my place to pass any judgement. I don’t know their story.

However, the world doesn’t work in a way that being nice guarantees positive feedback. Especially when you’re as anxious as I am, because you’re bound to seem annoying at some stage. But in all honesty, aren’t we all annoying sometimes? Nonetheless I try. I don’t change who I am, but I try too hard. My fear of inter-personal conflict is so great that I will take the blame in situations that are not my fault. I only vent, avoiding gossip if I can, because I’d feel awful it getting back to someone. Inevitably I’m sure I’ve hurt someone along the way, but never intentionally. Over the years I’ve worked at getting better at standing up for myself when wronged, but am still not great at it.  Causes I can make a commotion about, but not little old me. Little old me wants to keep the peace. The world would call me a pussy when it comes to self defense.

“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate […]”

Anthon St. Maarten

Inevitably, it’s hard for me to swallow when someone doesn’t like me. Especially when I myself don’t really generate the feeling of dislike towards others. I always try to see where others are coming from in their actions. Even if they break the cardinal rule and hurt someone, and even if their actions are not justifiable no matter where they are coming from (which I’ve experienced many times in my short life), that does not make me hate them. I’m not weak, it’s not easy to forgive, but in hating I stoop and am only hurting myself. I fundamentally feel everyone deserves happiness and it is not my place to stand in their way. If they’ve done wrong it will come back to them without me. I will continue to like everyone.

“You are what you love, not what loves you. ”

Charlie Kaufman

Not being liked triggers other thoughts, it emanates feelings of not being understood. Surely if my peers who don’t like me knew what I’ve overcome, why I am the way I am, what is happening in my life, they’d have more empathy for annoying quirks. I haven’t even broken the cardinal rule. Hell, I wasn’t even supposed to make it this far. Making snap judgement about my character takes away how hard I worked to get where I am.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

I know I should just say fuck it. It’s impossible to please everyone. Sure I’m the only person I have to live with at the end of the day. It’s silly, immature, and pathetic that I want to be liked by everyone. I know I shouldn’t care. I know. Caring too much is just who I am, and as I said I don’t change who I am. But if my call home taught me anything, it’s that I can’t let what I don’t have take away from what I do; which had unknowingly happened. I’d become so concerned with pleasing the world that I wasn’t appreciating the love and understanding coming from numerous friends, family, and a great boyfriend. I wasn’t letting it be enough. I wasn’t letting my own love for myself and the good qualities I have be enough.

So, though I can’t change caring whether the world likes me, I can shift the focus to the positive people in my life. Let them serve as a blockade against my wishes that will only lead to disappointment. I can’t change that I care about everyone but I can change the depth of field in my life, the true friends in focus. Not letting negativity get to me.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Bernard M. Baruch

It Does Not Define Me (My Mental Health Story)

My mental health story, a change in structure.

So this is highly personal, and something that is hard to openly share, however I am a big believer that the more people talk about mental health the more it is normalized and the more change can be made for the better.

I was an anxious child. That much was clear. Maybe it was the prednisone I was on for much of my early years, to help me breath through my asthma, that triggered it. I’ll never know.

I had rituals. I had to be the last to say goodbye to visitors or else I acted as if the world was ending. I had to stomp my feet when I got in the car. I had to look at my self a certain way in the mirror. I worried. I worried all the time and about everything. I had so much going on in my head that in kindergarten and first grade I was in a slower reading group.

By age 6 I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I was put on medication. I started therapy. I jumped from the bottom reading group to the top. However, this was just the start of a long journey.

Bipolar Disorder ran in my family. The anti-anxiety medication I was put on at such a young age, an SSRI, triggered the Bipolar gene in me that might have otherwise remained dormant. At 6 I had a manic episode. I thought with every fiber of my being that everyone, including my family, was trying to kill me.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar by age 7. I was put on Lithium and never had a manic episode again. At first, looking at the pamphlet made for early onset Bipolar in kids, I was happy. Sure anxiety was always my main issue, but seeing a book made for symptoms I experienced was amazing to me. I wasn’t alone. I thought I would be understood. Little did I know what was coming.

I had reflective days in the early years, upset I had to take medication, feeling like an outcast. Society surely didn’t help. In second grade a fellow student’s parent found out about my conditions. Worried her son would be negatively influenced, she requested her son be kept away from me. The school obliged, even recess aids were informed to keep us separate. I was full of hurt and pain at 8. I knew all of what was happening, and the embarrassment and shame was indescribable.

All of puberty was tough, adjusting medications regularly to match my ever changing hormones. The side effects of long term medication being fully realized. My home life at the time was less then ideal and a struggle in it’s own right, not aiding my mental state. I would break down in school. Panic. Fear.

Some teachers were a help, letting me be with sympathetic words, allowing me to calm. Some only made it worse. There were rooms the size of a telephone booths with windows in the counselor’s hallway. They were for in school suspension, kids that did bad things. Kids had a habit of looking in the rooms to see who was in trouble on their way to the counselors. When I was having panic attacks, break downs, because the world around me was too much, I would get thrown in these rooms until I stopped crying. I remember my panic only intensifying.

I’m trapped, scared, I wish I had a phone to call someone to rescue me. Shame. I wasn’t in trouble. Everyone walking by will think I’m in trouble. I’m a good kid I swear.Adults and kids are laughing at me. Get me out please I’m hurting. I want to die. Please. I can’t breathe.

I stabilized in middle school, but for the rest of my time I had to fight for my place in many higher level classes because I got extended time on exams due to my anxiety. I developed secondary conditions due to my medication. I never stopped taking it, I was fortunate to not know any different, and see the dangers of trying without a doctors supervision.

In college, my roommate made fun of me for being on medication, calling me crazy, saying I have a drawer full of pills. The school made it difficult to get a single room.

I lost friends and opportunities during a rough patch in life when I was having multiple panic attacks a day, struggling to function. I was going to therapy and following the rules, but sometimes that’s not enough. They didn’t understand. My anxious behavior, which I actively challenged with every fiber of my being, and did not ask for, was too bizarre for some.

Depending on external life factors, and my condition in general, my anxiety ebbs in and out. Some periods are grand, some are not. Regardless I give it my all. Every day I try. There are days where getting out of bed seems like too much to bare. Almost every day is exhausting. Existing takes everything I have.There were times I wanted out. There were close calls. But I know now the good times are worth the bad, and I will fight for the good times.  I have to pay for medication, which isn’t cheap. I’ve known my whole life I will have that added cost, on top of the emotional cost. I hope one day I can go off some of them with a doctor’s supervision. I deal.

Above all in my journey I learned you have to help yourself. If you don’t, no amount of external help will get you anywhere. You have try. And sometimes that’s not enough. That’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to need help. Seeking help isn’t weak. It shouldn’t be stigmatized. It should be like going to a physical doctor. Your brain is an organ it, needs check ups too, which could even save a life.

For a number of reasons, including my mental health, I wasn’t expected to achieve this much. To go beyond community college. I graduated in the top 10% of my class. I got a full ride to college. I earned a spot at the Clinton Global Initiative University. I’ve appeared in commercials. Ran clubs. Moved to another country. I succeeded in spite of my mental health. I am more empathetic because of my mental health. Anyone can do the same. Most have. That’s just not the image portrayed in the  media.

However the more we speak up, the more we normalize the discussion around mental health, the more the struggle becomes apparent, the better of the world is. I deal with mental health issues. So do 1 in 4 in the US. 1 in 4 is not homeless, a psychotic killer, an outcast. 1 in 4 should not be treated as if they are. Those who treat people less because of their mental health should be scolded, not those trying their hardest to overcome. The more we personalize this issue, come forward and put faces to it, the more stigma goes away. The more the diagnosis becomes less of a defining feature for a person. It’s not easy, the fear of judgement, the fear of being viewed as having a character flaw instead of a medical condition, is very real. But it’s necessary.

I am Kelley, and I have OCD and mild Bipolar.  I am not my illness. It has shaped me, but it in no way defines me.

Say you’ll remember me?

A dark post, but it doesn’t have to be.

We all think it. We all care. Wondering what other’s think of us, valuing their opinions. In our darkest moments we ponder if they’d miss us when we’re gone. We see heart bearing social media posts for friends who passed too soon, even from strangers to the deceased. We wonder if our own untimely passing would elicit such emotion, such regret, such love.

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”

Anne Frank

For my own part, I know I often feel underappreciated. Whether this feeling is supported by fact or the outside world is a debate for another time, but nonetheless it is a thought that passes through me often and probably through many others. I go out of my way to be kind. In fact it would hurt me not to be. I enjoy being supportive and lovely, even in the face of adversity. What I do not appreciate is being taken advantage of or being  taken for granted. It happens all too frequently because it is not in my nature to be anything but nice, even when standing up for myself. Inevitably people regret hurting me because my actions never gave them a reason to deservedly treat me so poorly, but that takes years of self reflection and leaves me wallowing for a good while beforehand.

I wonder, would it take a tragic end to me for people to appreciate the light I try so hard to spread. I don’t spread it because I am weak, or because I never have seen pain. I spread it because I’ve suffered and I wouldn’t wish others to feel that low. Because though my faith in humanity is shot, I have faith in every individual I meet.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

Robin Williams

What is so wrong in our society that it often takes death for overwhelming support to truly show from a community? Support that the person being supported may never feel. Why can’t we reflect on those in our lives while they are in them. When the impact will matter for the person. Maybe if we could express our love openly there would be less sadness. The fact that more than once in conversation the logic of “I wish I was dead so people would appreciate me” has been uttered by multiple people is appalling. Tragedy shouldn’t be the spark for love. Love should flow constantly and consistently. Maybe then we will feel comfortable enough in our own skins to shine. And light spreads far more efficiently than darkness.

So please tell people in your life you love them, and why. Who cares if it’s sappy. Who cares if it’s hard. They may need to hear it, and you could be giving them the boost they need to change the world for the better.